Does Apple Have a Software Problem?

Over the past few weeks, the Apple-focused blogosphere has rumbled with tales of discontent about the current state of Mac and iOS software.

The blogosphere is rumbling because a few of those tales of discontent come from prominent Apple fans, including Marco Arment and Glenn Fleishman. The crux of the collective argument goes something like this: Although Apple continues to build industry-defining hardware, Mac OS X and iOS have become increasingly buggy over the past few releases. While Arment later regretted writing his posting, his argument obviously resonated with quite a few people.

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“Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can’t talk anymore,” Arment wrote in the post he regrets. “The problem seems to be quite simple: they’re doing too much, with unrealistic deadlines.”

Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber broke down the accelerating pace of Apple software releases. Whereas in past years the company would sometimes wait for years before launching a major revamp of Mac OS X, the big updates now come on an annual basis. “It’s a hard balance to strike,” he wrote. “When Mac OS X releases were roughly biannual, we complained that Apple was neglecting it. Now that the releases are annual, we’re complaining that they’re going too fast.”

But Apple obviously feels that it needs to issue massive new updates to its software every year, and it’s easy to see why: With Google iterating rapidly on the mobile front, and Microsoft determined to not let Windows slide into history’s dustbin of dead technology, the folks at Cupertino probably feel they have precious little choice but to keep Mac OS X and iOS on the proverbial cutting edge. Sure, with rapid development comes lots of bugs, but Apple management might think it has no other choice; add in the fact that iOS, Mac OS X, and Apple’s cloud are increasingly entwined, and things get even more complicated from a development standpoint.

The big question is whether Apple will slow the pace—perhaps by releasing updates that act more as bug-crushers than outright upgrades—or maintain that full-speed-ahead rush.

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One Response to “Does Apple Have a Software Problem?”

  1. It’s very simple: Apple is a hardware company, not a software company.
    In the past, they could get away with creating sound software by spending so much time trying to get it right. Now it’s clear that they can’t keep up with the industry in the software side (since it’s not their market) and they’ve lost their edge with software innovation.
    Over the last 2 years, I’ve noticed that their O/S is very lacking in features that Windows put in a dozen years ago. They are slowly starting to add these. Conversely, Windows seems to be taking a lot of the out-dated strategies from Apple and putting those into their newest versions of Windows, so they’re going backwards. It would be nice to have a new innovative company come along and do what Apple did 30 years ago. Google has tried but I think they’re becoming too big for themselves. Time will tell if we ever get good innovation back.